According to a study by Wake Forest School of Medicine, eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and olive oil could play a role in reducing women’s risk of getting breast cancer.
A Mediterranean diet also includes nuts, seeds, dry beans, and other legumes, fish, olive oil and whole grains, while being short in red and processed meat, and with alcohol kept to a least.
The breast has a microbe like your gut. These microbiomes are present in breast glands. And, similar to the gut microbiome, they are directly influenced by what you eat. A new study suggests that it can be affected by diet.
Microbiome refers to the combined genetic material of the microorganisms present in an environment. There are a variety of living organisms, like bacteria and fungi, which populate our bodies. This type of ecosystem is vital to good health.
Researchers of the study were surprised that diet directly influenced microbiome outside of the intestinal tract in sites like the mammary gland. They say that the risk of breast can be reduced by shifting the breast microbiome through diet.
Research on monkeys
The researchers used female monkeys to see the effect of diet on breast tissue. To see this, they fed one group a Mediterranean diet and another group a high-fat Western diet, which is plant-based. Research details are published in Cell Reports.
After 2.5 years, which is approximately the same as 8 years for humans, the two groups had noteworthy differences in bacteria present in their breast tissue.
They found that the Mediterranean diet group had 10 times more mammary gland Lactobacillus. These are the bacteria involved to slow growth in breast tumors. Moreover, cancerous breast tumors have lesser Lactobacillus than noncancerous breast tumors.
They found that the Mediterranean diet group had more bile acid metabolites, so it may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Study authors admit that the research is still in its early stages. As microbiomes differ according to a place where a person lives, they say further studies will comprise primates from different regions.
Other studies are also trying to find out if fish oil or probiotic supplements can influence microbiomes in mammary glands.
The role of diet in breast cancer
According to Dr. Janie Grumley, who is a breast surgical oncologist, these studies are useful as they help encourage patients to be aware of diet. But prevention of breast cancer isn’t that simple.
In the United States, women have a 1 in 8 risks of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Some breast cancer risk factors, like age and genetics, are beyond a person’s control.
Researchers stated that studies are surely important, but you need to be careful how you infer the deductions. It is not one thing, but many different things. Like, age is a huge factor for breast cancer. Plus breast cancer is not a single disease.
The thing which is making cancer research so curious and challenging is that you are trying to attack a very wide range of diseases. Breast cancer is of many different kinds. Furthermore, many different things can also affect the development of breast cancer.
According to researchers, diet may be one small part of that. People should not think that if they adopt this diet they won’t get breast cancer. People can adopt these habits to reduce risk, but that doesn’t show you you’ll never have breast cancer.
An exercise, a healthy diet, and moderate alcohol intake are factors we need to control or to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Weight control is also a very important factor. As obese women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Grumley counsels her patients to get nutrients through a natural diet. Large amounts of vitamin supplements aren’t necessary when you do that. She also stresses the need for balance in how much you eat and what you eat.
For example, if olive oil is good for your health, you should not just pour it on everything. Moderation is very important, for general health as well as for lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Transitioning to a Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a great starting point. But to reduce the risk of breast cancer risk, it is best to be more careful and choosy of foods to include in your food.
According to Samantha Lyles, who is an Illinois-based registered dietitian, the Mediterranean diet is more focused on plants and whole grains. Contrast that with the Western diet that is full of refined grains, white bread, and processed and prepackaged foodstuffs. Always try to choose fresh foods over processed.
If you wanted to know whether food is plant-based or processed, ask if it looks like the thing you would find in nature. Like, you won’t find Fruit Loops in a field. Some simple dietary changes can go far.
For instance, as an alternative to a prepackaged breakfast bar, try to have a nut mix. Look for the things which don’t have any added sugar and sodium. Lyles also commends replacing high-starch diets with other vegetables. Fresh is always best. But if you have to use frozen or canned vegetables, that is also OK.
Western food includes lots of fatty red meat. It can lead to inflammation. So, the Mediterranean diet limits red meat consumption in favor of fish and poultry.
The Mediterranean diet comprises more omega-3 fatty acids, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. Fish consumption like salmon, including nuts and healthy oils, lowers risk of cancer and other illnesses. Try to avoid red meat and pork and have chicken and fish more often.
Less red meat and dairy products can help lower cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet is normally lower in sodium and salt than the Western diet. It helps you to control blood pressure. She also proposes replacing white bread with whole-wheat bread. But this can be tricky.
It is important to see that honey wheat bread and wheat bread are not the same as whole-grain wheat bread. They are just white bread in disguise. Always look for 100% whole wheat, not augmented flour.
While ordering a salad, choose oil- and vinegar-based salad dressing instead of creamy ones, such as ranch. Olive oil contains healthy fats and it is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. It is very helpful in controlling inflammation. Look for options like fresh vegetable or fruit instead of fries.
Lyles said the typical American diet is filled with things like which contains processed and prepackaged foods, they are meant to make our lives easier. But they are not good for general health. Thus, every time you switch this kind of things out for fresh fruits or vegetables, it is a step in the right direction.
Although the whole pattern of nutrition characterized by the Mediterranean diet stimulates good health, fruits and vegetables should be selected for their proven chemopreventive properties.